“It takes a village” has a whole new meaning — namely, “It takes an office.”
For a new story published by Good Morning America titled, “Donating vacation time to new moms is a trendy co-worker baby shower gift,” the outlet interviewed multiple moms who were able to take advantage of the generosity of their coworkers when it came to taking time off to be with their new babies.
One woman, Angela Hughes, explained that she hadn’t been at her job for a year yet (the required amount of time before being able to take maternity leave) when her daughter was born two months early, so her colleagues pitched in to donate a total of eight weeks to the new mom.
Another, Jessie Sampson from Nebraska — a state that doesn’t offer state employees specific paid maternity leave — was able to take 12 weeks of maternity leave with her second son due to her coworkers donating their hours.
“I had more bonding time with my child and I was able to establish a much better breastfeeding routine,” Sampson told GMA. “That’s time [my colleagues] could be spending relaxing and to give it to me to spend time with my child, I’m really grateful for that.”
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Of course, the Twittersphere has its opinion. Users are running the gamut from supportive and excited to see workplace camaraderie to eye-rolling over the practice — but notably and most often, they are throwing major criticism of what they see as a much more high-level issue.
“You know what would be a better baby shower gift? Paid maternity and paternity leave,” wrote one commenter.
Another quipped, “Every day there’s another heartwarming story of people scrambling to fill the gaping holes in our systemically brutal system.”
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According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. stands out as the sole country of 41 industrialized ones without a nationwide paid-maternity-leave policy.
GMA also cites the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2018 Employee Benefits Survey that states an offer of paid maternity leave jumped to 35 percent of employers, from 26 percent in 2016. Furthermore, the survey results reflected that 15 percent of companies in the U.S. allow their employees to donate time to their colleagues.
“It really, really meant a lot to me,” Hughes told GMA of the time she received. “I was very surprised because I had not been with the company very long. I was extremely appreciative and very humbled.”